As the auction progressed, I couldn’t help the apathy from rising.

Instead of naming this place ‘Heaven’, ‘Hell’ was the more appropriate term for such a venue.

‘Auction for slaves is clearly illegal and banned, yet why are there so many people in the auction house?’

“The next product is Lunetia siblings. Both of them have pure white hair and white eyes. They are both literate…,” the half-masked man introduced the slaves with a smile. Without realizing the sickening situation he was in.

The siblings were dragged out to the middle of the stage. A long chain shackled both of their hands and ankles. Countless wounds marred their whole body, leaving ugly marks on their skin.

“What do you think?”

At Isaac’s words, Henry lightly said.

“If you’re going to buy one, just buy the girl. Since she can read, we can have her read LeBlaine fairytale books.”

The auction progressed and soon both of them were forcefully drawn off the stage.

The next slave in turn was a tall man. His long shaggy hair completely covered his face. A roar was released from his mouth, filling the entire hall, as he was dragged out from the slave’s cage.

An iron shackle hung around his neck, connecting to countless chains that were tying his entire body. His appearance was even worse than the previous slaves. Isaac’s eyes glistened with eagerness.

“Henry, look! That guy could probably burn lanterns and circulate them around the castle all day long.”

“No. He’s too violent. What if LeBlaine got hurt?”

Henry reprimanded his brother. Moving his gaze towards me, he asked.

“LeBlaine, do you fancy any of them?”

“….”

“LeBlaine?”

“I down’t wand any swaves….” (I don’t want any slaves….)

Isaac tilted his head at my words in confusion.

“Why?”

“They awe two stwong.” (They are too strong.)

“That means they’re good slaves. My ancestor told me it was terrible to be weak. “

‘Fucking ancestor.’ I cursed inside my mind.

They must have had some messed up principles. Why would they teach the kids such things? If they were still alive, I would love to choke them into oblivion.

“AGGH!”

A furious roar rang once again from the shaggy-haired man. The onlooker could only stare at a tremendous gust of wind building up from the epicenter of the stage agape.

“Clank!”

In the center of the wind, the man’s chains broke down and fell. The dull sound of chains hitting the floor echoed in the opera hall.

He then hit the ground with his fist and rebounded towards the VIP section on the second floor where we were sitting.

“Clank!”

A dull sound of metal resounded once more. The man was now settled on the railing. Scanning his surroundings with a ferocious glare, he tried to look for a way out from this hell hole. Unfortunately for him, there was no way out nor a place to run to. He gritted his teeth, persistence flashed through his eyes and somehow his gaze fell on me.

‘Don’t tell me… he wants to take me as a hostage?’

As if reading my thoughts, the man outstretched his hand towards my directions…

‘…!’

I unconsciously clench my eyes shut and hug my body, readying myself for the incoming assault. However, no matter how much time passed, nothing came. I slowly opened one of my eyes and saw a startling scene in front of me.

Isaac’s sword blocked the man’s outreached hand, and a red mana originating from Henry’s hand was surrounding me, similar to a cocoon, encompassing me in its protection.

Isaac quickly put his foot under the man’s leg, tripping him from the railing. The man, unable to defy the gravity, soon crashed into the ground with a loud bang. Isaac immediately stepped up onto the railing and jumped from the balcony, going after the slave. He landed beside the man’s sprawling body. Before the man could even get up, a sword was already pointed on his chest.

The slave let out a frustrated roar.

I grabbed the railing in haste and looked down at the VIP section. The beautiful floor was indented and cracked as if a meteor had fallen. The man’s body was shining blue from a line that stretched out from Isaac’s hand, the seemingly thin mana line bound his whole body.

The line chained him up more tightly than the metal chain could. Because of the line, he couldn’t even move an inch. His entire body was completely frozen up.

A sense of dread crept up the hearts of the audiences as they watched the brothers’ power in person.

Isaac waved at me from the first floor.

“Kid, it’s very strong. You don’t want to play with it?”

“It’s really a special creature. Born by combining animal and human’s blood. Moreover, this fellow is still young. Little miss would be able to play with it for a long time.”

‘What are you talking about? Are you crazy?’

I could only stare with disbelief at the half-masked auctioneer who said those words.

I’d rather go back to the estate than buy any of the slaves here.

‘How can I persuade the brothers from injuring these people?’

No matter how long I ponder over it, I could only find one way to coax them.

‘…I wasn’t planning to do this in a crowded place, but….’

Giving my pride up, “Wow!” I shouted with an expression filled with excitement.

“Isyac and Henwy are cwool!” (Isaac and Henry are so cool!)

Isaac and Henry’s eyes widened at my unexpected proclamation.

“Bwaine doeswn’t need neuw toys. I like pwaying with Henwy and Isyac more. Bowth of you awe coolew than them!” (Blaine doesn’t need new toys. I like playing with Henry and Isaac more. Both of you are cooler than them!)

I hugged Henry, who was standing next to me, tightly. His body immediately stiffened in surprise from my sudden action, but I could see his lips twitched upwards with triumph even then.

“Then… shall we just go?”

“Yes!”

‘Yeah, let’s go back. As soon as possible.’

Once I go back, I would tell the temple and the imperial family about the odious half-masked man.

On the other hand, as if his toy was snatched away, Isaac relented with a disappointed face.

“Oh, well, if you think so. Let’s just go. By the way, Kid….”

“…?” I tilted my head at his unfinished question.

“How fun is it playing with us?”

I said with a big smile.

“The mowst fun!” (The most fun!)

I could feel the situation finally shifted in my favor as both of the brothers’ faces brightened.

Out of sudden, the entrance’s door opened with a bang, and someone very familiar to the three of us came in.

“Dyuke?” (Duke?)

Before I knew it, the Duke had entered the place. With his big strides, in a few seconds he was already standing right beside me. His expression was dark, as if the sky had collapsed.
The brothers’ expression unintentionally turned rigid, as if mirroring their father’s, at the arrival of him.

***

A few minutes after the siblings’ departure to ‘Heaven’, a man sitting on a luxurious leather chair was frowning. The servant reporting the little trip LeBlaine took to the store, couldn’t help but shudder under his employee’s dark mood.

‘Such a lousy trick,’ he thought, criticizing his sons’ action.

‘The first thing a child received would be the most memorable present,’ the Duke thought so, ‘If it was so, then the gift from his sons would be more memorable than him.’

As the thought fleeted his mind, his already dark expression became even more ominous, frightening all the people in his room. Not waiting another second, he slipped into his outer coat and walked out of the study room. He didn’t even heed Nos and the administrators’ plea to finish the paperwork first.

His mind recurred to when he was alone with LeBlaine, without the brothers by her side. His life was very peaceful and fulfilling. Life went by slowly and everyday LeBlaine would sit on his lap all day long. His regular heavy mood would turn light whenever the little girl was by his side.

Unfortunately, after the formal adoption process went through, the time between the father and daughter seemed to lessen. Either due to the incident that came one after another or the increasing paperwork. But even with his packed schedule, he was still included in the list of her favorite people. Only after his sons came, did the situation change.

Dubbled remembered his first interaction with the girl. In the beginning, he thought she was a nuisance to his life. Simply a fearless child who wasn’t afraid of his cold glare and boldly chased after him.

Every day, she would trail enthusiastically behind him, following him wherever he went. Dubbled never realized, since when did he feel empty without the little girl’s presence?

He didn’t know precisely when or how he started to care for her.

But he could still remember the anger clouding his mind when the servant told him LeBlaine had fallen sick. Her words played in his head like a broken record, as if those were her last.

“Dyuke!”

“Plwease be my fathew!” (Please be my father!)

He nearly let the rage consume him and ordered the execution of more than a dozen doctors that day. Fortunately, LeBlaine woke up before the order was carried out. She managed to stir the Duke out from the cloud of madness.

Dubbled quietly closed his eyes and leaned on the cozy carriage seat. Without realizing, he was reminiscing all the happy times he spent with his daughter. Suddenly a knock from the horseman’s seat woke him up from his doze.

“Your highness, we have arrived.”

The Duke fastened his outer coat before he went down the carriage. Nos, who failed to persuade Dubbled off from this trip, was now standing beside him.

“Where are Blaine and the boys?”

“They are in the slave auction house, ‘Heaven’.”

The Duke narrowed his eyes. He knew the ‘Heaven’. It was a slave auction disguised under a beautiful building to hide their activity, auctioning immigrants and prisoners of war as if they’re a product.

That place has been a long-time problem for his domain. The act of selling human lives itself was illegal; however, the opera house was an untouched corner, even for the governor of the land, such as himself.

It was more appropriate to say that the auction had some trick up its sleeve rather than untouchable. Not only was it customary for the lord to overlook some of the big criminal trading, especially the one favored by the people. The auction itself had some strong sponsors which made it hard for anyone to bring the place down.

“Are they giving a slave as the Children’s Day gift for LeBlaine?”

“It seems like it.”

Hearing Nos’ reply, the Duke couldn’t help but raise the corners of his mouth, condemning the brothers’ plan.

“They’re doing pointless things again.”

The brothers’ wanted to buy the girl a slave as a present. Then let’s see their reaction when he bought her 20 slaves.

The Duke was walking towards the entrance, when LeBlaine’s words pricked up his ear.

“How fun is it to play with us?”

“The most fun!”

When the ridiculous statement passed his ears, the Duke stopped in his tracks for a second before walking towards the sibling in a long stride. He looked alternately at the bewildered LeBlaine and his sons before he finally ordered Nos in a chilling tone.

“Blow it up.”

“Pardon?”

Feeling somehow the Duke’s word didn’t make any sense, Nos licked his lips anxiously and braced himself for the Duke’s answer. The Duke then declared through his gritted teeth.

“This fucking place burn it to the ground.”

***

Everything passed in a blink of an eye, and I could only stare blankly at the burning opera house.

The Duke ordered his men to burn down the ‘Heaven’, without even spending a moment to hear any explanation.

As soon as the Duke’s order came, four attendants cladded in black attire, appeared from the shadow next to him and drew mana out of thin air, burning the beautiful building down.

Without even caring about the commotion he had caused, the Duke carried me in his embrace and walked to the building’s entrance.

“BANG!”

A sudden big explosion occurred within the building before finally the last standing structure crashed into a pile of wreckage. The good news was that everyone there got out in time and there were no casualties.

All of it owing to Nos’s desperate cry before the building was burned down.

“Those who want to live, run!” he shouted.

‘Fortunately, the slaves were all let out as well.’

At the entrance, instead of panicking like all of the visitors, a lethargic man was instead counting all of the runaway slaves and said to us, “The goods are now all yours. Pay up for it.”

‘He should’ve just been buried under the rubble.’

I looked at the man hatefully.

“What’s wrong, kid? Do you like him, too?”

I immediately frowned at Isaac’s words.

‘How did he come to that conclusion?’

There’s no way I’d like such a cunning person.

It was then I realized, Isaac’s eyes were not on the loathsome man. It was instead on the shaggy-haired man crouching behind him. It turned out to be the slave who tried to take me hostage.

“Shall we buy him? If you want to, you’d better buy him now. Now that the building had collapsed, we won’t be able to enter the auction for a while.”

“….”

“I will buy him for you, but you must also play with us even if I buy him. You said it yourself that we’re the coolest in the world!”

I didn’t know why he thought I wanted to buy the slave. It never even crossed my mind to buy any of the slaves. I happened to know about this auction because of the brothers. If only they didn’t try to buy me a weird gift, I wouldn’t have known about this horrible ‘Heaven’. I really need to discipline both of them.

‘If a carrot doesn’t work, then he needs a whip. If currying favor doesn’t work, then it’s time to do it the hard way.’

I looked at Isaac and said, “Now, I won’t pway….” (No, I won’t play….)

“Huh? Why?!”

“Cowme to tink of it, you’ we not vewy cool.” (Come to think of it, you’re not very cool.)

“Why?! No way, you said I’m the coolest!”

Isaac shouted in desperation.